While the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to even their first round series with the Ottawa Senators at one game apiece on Friday, the victory did not come without a cost.
Near the end of the first period of Game 2, Senators defenceman Andy Sutton
caught Penguins blueliner Jordan Leopold
with his head down and leveled him with a devastating hit. Leopold lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the Penguins dressing room.
While there was no penalty on the play, there had been some speculation that Sutton might receive supplementary discipline from the league for what some considered to be a hit to the head. After a review, the league determined that it was in fact a legal hit and that Sutton would not be suspended.
While Sutton will not miss Game 3, Leopold on the other hand did not take the Penguins' optional skate Saturday morning and head coach Dan Bylsma was unsure when his defenceman would be able to return to the lineup.
"He's definitely going to be day-to-day and he's not going to be on the ice today or tomorrow," said Bylsma.
Veteran defenceman Jay McKee
will be drafted into the Pens lineup in Leopold's place. The 32-year old, who has been a healthy scratch for both of Pittsburgh's playoff games, is itching to see some action.
"I signed here to be a part of this team and do something special in the playoffs and I wanted that opportunity," McKee said following practice Saturday. "You never want to see a teammate get hurt but we've got real good depth on this team and that's why I've been watching for the last few playoff games. It's going to be a good opportunity and I'm excited to play in Ottawa."
While McKee's game is very different than that of the more offensively-minded Leopold, Bylsma does not believe that will change the way that the Penguins play in Game 3.
"Jay is a penalty-killing guy and a shotblocking guy. How we play won't change, but the assets that he brings will."
With the scene shifting to our Nation's capital, the Senators hope to take advantage of what will be a packed house at Scotiabank Place.
"We've got the home ice advantage and we want to make the most of it," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
. "We've played very well throughout the season at home. We want to continue that and continue to put pressure on them."
Also working in the Senators favour is that they will get the last line change at home, giving head coach Cory Clouston the opportunity of matching lines and getting his top defensive unit out against Sidney Crosby
"We expect a healthy dose of #4 (Chris Phillips
) and #24 (Anton Volchenkov
) out against the lines that they want to defend against," admitted Bylsma. "It'll be that much tougher to get away from them."
However if Game 2 proved anything, it was that even if you do your best to contain Crosby, he has the ability to lose a defender and create scoring chances for his teammates. It's something he certainly demonstrated on the Penguins' winning goal where he circled the puck for nearly 30 seconds by himself despite the best efforts of Jason Spezza
"We've got to do our best to slow him down, but he's a great player and he's going to create his chances. It's about not making them point blank," said Phillips.
Considering many did not even give the Senators a chance in this series, a win on home ice in Game 3 would be a great way to silence some of the skeptics and put a measure of additional pressure on the defending champions in Game 4.